By Hwaa Irfan
To all haters of RAP, I sympathize, as it has become a derogatory semblance of what it once used to be, and that was an inner expression of the ills in society, the tensions, and concerns. Dying aged 62 only, Gil-Scott Heron was an advocate of that expression in the form of Jazz-oetry. Why the poetry in Rhythm and Poetry, and Jazz-oetry? Because it is a tradition of the ancestors of the Africans in the Diaspora, a tradition that speaks to community, of community, and with community…
Gil Scott-Heron died at a hospital in New York Friday 27 May 2011 apparently falling ill following his return from Europe to the U.S. and passed away after he was admitted to the hospital.
Scott-Heron was born in Chicago in 1949. He grew up in Lincoln, Tennessee and later the Chelsea neighbourhood of the Bronx. His creative gift was inspired by his mother, Bobbie Scott-Heron who was part of the New York Oratorical Society.
Gil stood tall as a tower of musical integrity in the 70’s with a Masters in creative writing from John Hopkins University, as a poet, a writer, a lyricist, a composer, a poet and a modern day griot. He emerged in the 1970s making tangible the experience of persecution of African-American people after the death of Martin Luther King Junior and Malcolm X with the FBI taking vengeance through all possible means. Gil stood tall like the weed that would not be cut down with albums like What’s Going On and There’s A Riot Goin’ On, and tracks like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ – an oft-repeated phrase which arose from him. After signing with Arista record label, he produced 12 albums, took a 12-year break and released ‘Spirits’ in 1993 with TVT Records. The first track “Message to the Messenger,” was a warning to modern day rappers to take responsibility for their art and their community.
Gil helped shaped the future for the new wave of black music, and has been influential with artistes like rappers Eminem. His last album ‘I Am New Here’ was released last year, in 2010, maybe Gil new something everybody else didn’t know! At least, maybe now is the time that the full meaning of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised has come to pass!